After our visit to Maui, we flew to the Big Island’s Hilo airport. We chose to fly into Hilo because we wanted to see the Volcano National Park first. Our plan was to spend 2 nights in the Volcano National Park and then drive to the west side of the Big Island to Kona. We would then fly from Kona back to Boston.
Once we checked into the Lotus Garden Inn, we headed to the Jaggar Museum inside the Volcano National Park to meet with our tour guide from Volcano Discovery. While we waited for Marty, we admired the view of the Kilauea vent.
Our tour guide Marty started us off by showing us slides of the history of the park. We then got into his car and started to drive into the park to do some hiking and exploring. Here is one of the lava fields we saw on our hike. Notice the black lava rocks in contrast with the tree line around it.
Lava rocks also come in different colors like these:
Before ending our tour, Marty took us to the Thurston Lava Tube. Lava use to flow through here and formed this huge tunnel.
Our tour with Marty ended around 7PM which around sunset at the Jaggar Museum. At night, the Kilauea Vent reflects a red lava glow from deep within the crater as oppose to the white steam we see during the day.
The next day, we went back to the Volcano National Park to hike the Kilauea Iki trail Marty showed us the day before. Here is the view of this crater from the top:
Notice there is a slightly white line on the middle left hand side of the crater. That’s the trail we are hiking to. We will enter from the far side of the crater and come back to where this picture was taken since this trail is in a loop. The picture below is after we have decided about 400 feet to the opposite end of the crater. The trees on either side will be the last tall trees we see for a while.
Hiking deeper into the crater:
Some of the areas that looked flat and smooth when we were at the top are actually very uneven, some parts were completely hollow underneath.
This part of the crater was actually quite flat:
The little piles of rock next to us is not a natural formation. This is how trails are marked inside the Volcano National Park.
Yes, that is a steam vent and yes, you can get as close to it as you want. Thousands of feet below the steam vent is lava.
This is the view from the opposite end of where we started. Behind us are tree lines again and it’s time to climb out of the crater.
After climbing the crater, I was ready to meet one of the biggest attraction for coming to Hawaii: Honu – the Hawaii Green Sea Turtles.
We drove south to the Black Sand Beach to try our luck. While Tripadvisor did not rate this attraction very high, almost all the reviews said they saw Honus. When we arrived, Luke immediately spotted the black mounds on the sand.
There were about 6 Honus sunbathing on the black sand. There eyes were closed and just taking a nap while we took pictures. We took a walk around the entire beach area to do a Honu count and saw these 2 sea turtles having a little fight:
They weren’t snapping at each other like snapping turtles but you could tell they weren’t happy with each other.
After spending a little over an hour here watching the Honus, we headed back to the Volcano National Park to explore the Crate of the Rim Road. People use to be able to drive on this road and see lava at the end but the lava was not flowing today. We are able to see the path of the lava flow and how the lava entered the sea. When lava use to flow, people also took cruises to see the lava drop into the ocean.
We spent another night in Volcano to see the lava glow at night one more time before packing up and head to Kona on the other side of the island.
The drive from Volcano to Kona is about 3 hours. We took a little detour and visited some waterfalls on the way:
After we checked into the Fairmont Hotel in Kona, we wanted to take advantage of the hotel beach and snorkel. When we walked up to the beach, we saw more Honus, right on the hotel beach!!! This was a huge surprise as it wasn’t part of the hotel’s description at all. We put on our snorkels and swam out to spy on the Honus having lunch. They take little nibbles off of the rock on the ocean floor. It was an amazing experience. If it weren’t for the fear of sunburn, we would have stayed out there forever! A dinner at the outside bar of the hotel finished off this great trip on the Big Island.